When doing research on putting together a first promotional mailer, I got mixed messages from different sources. In the past, illustrators wanting to introduce themselves to publishers would send out a sample packet consisting of letter-size sheets of images (basically a paper portfolio), which the art director would put in a file. After that first mailing, illustrators would keep in touch via single image postcards, reminding the art director of his/her existence. Nowadays, it seems mandatory that illustrators have their portfolios online. So I questioned the necessity of sending that first mailing of a paper portfolio to art directors.
Art Director at Penguin Books for Young Readers Cecilia Yung shared some advice based on her personal preferences:
“I would prefer to get one large well designed postcard with one central image and two smaller supporting images (perhaps on the back). These samples should show characters and setting with a strong narrative quality. If I am interested, I will go to the website. A down-loadable PDF [on your site] will be a good feature. If there isn’t enough information on the website, I will usually contact the artist for further samples. I don’t usually need extensive illustration samples on file unless I’m interested, so I think a large promotional mailing may not be a good use of time and resources.”
One important thing to note is that some publishers post their specific preferences on their sites, so it’s very important to check there before sending mail to them.
Do you have a preferred format for promoting to art directors?
Many thanks to Cecilia for sharing her advice.
Good luck promoting everyone!